March 22, 2016
MODERATOR: Thanks very much for joining us this morning. You were third in this event on your debut last year. How much are you looking forward to being back?
DANNY WILLETT: It's good. Obviously a different golf course this year. Match play is a great format, we don't get to do too much throughout the year. We've got a great group of 64 guys here. Just looking forward to getting underway tomorrow.
MODERATOR: Thoughts on your group drawn last night.
DANNY WILLETT: Strong group. Brooks is put quite comfortably obviously in the top flight, he's fallen back a few spots. He's feeling it because he's not played that much.
Billy's obviously got a fantastic pedigree, just had a slow few months.
Jaco has won quite a few tournaments around the world and this kind of golf course could suit him quite nicely, as well.
It's a really strong group. There's 16 strong groups. I don't think we're going to get away with having an easy one. It's nice to play against young lads who are obviously hungry to try to do well and stuff. So I think every match is going to be good.
MODERATOR: Just a few weeks away from becoming a dad for the first time, how difficult is to keep your mind on the golf?
DANNY WILLETT: Yes, she's trying not to do much this week. And then hopefully he's listening to me and my thoughts and he can pop himself out next week, and then we'll all go to the Masters.
Q. This would be a tough stroke play course, wouldn't it? In that sense, is it good that it's match play? Could you imagine there being double bogeys, just have to shake it off and get on to the next?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, depends obviously on the weather. The wind is up today. I don't know what it calls for the rest of the week. The greens are pretty firm and pretty fast and undulating, as well. So I think stroke play around here, I think everybody is pretty happy it's match play. I think it's one of them where unless the weather subsides a lot and the greens soften up a lot, par seems like it's going to be a pretty good score on quite a few holes. There's a lot of strong holes, looks like on a couple of par-4s, they've taken it back from par-5s to par-4s. I don't know the original golf course layout.
But in terms of match play, it's one of them where similar to Harding Park, you're trying to hit the fairways, trying to hit the greens and just make sure that you don't give holes away. Around the greens a lot of things can happen on this golf course. I played a few yesterday and you've got to be in the right position all day really. Just trying to keep yourself in the hole, try not to give it a way. And hopefully guys can make a few more mistakes than you can.
Q. How big a distraction is it that your wife is expecting so soon? Is it hard not to think about that even when you're playing?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, it's tough. It's a shame obviously I can't be there at home all the time. But because of the time of year, it's obviously massive events on our schedule. If it was a different time of year then I might be able to take a few weeks off and be at home all the time.
My schedule is better after the Masters so I can be home and do normal things, change nappies, get him down for a nap and feed. So that'll be good.
But it's a little tricky obviously being, whatever, how many thousands of miles away. If anything happen, it's going to be a bit tight to get back home.
Q. Great result down in Cadillac a few weeks ago. It feels like your game is peaking for two weeks time? Is it progressing on nicely? Do you feel as though it will peak at Augusta?
DANNY WILLETT: I think there's only one man who could ever peak his game as accurately as that. It's one of them where, like I said before, we keep ticking off boxes day in and day out, try doing the right things, try to get better every day. If that means that you pitch up one week in Spain and play well and win, then fine. If you pitch up at the Masters and play well, that's great.
It's one of them where I don't -- I think you can try as hard as you can to obviously get the game in good shape and obviously you're working on certain things in your game. But at the end of the day, there's a lot of luck involved in golf. So if it's not going to be your week, it's not going to be your week. You need a few things to go your way. We've done everything correctly to get there and if we have a good week, we have a good week.
Q. How do you fuel your body before and during a round to stay focused and energized?
DANNY WILLETT: Just really with the correct foods. Obviously in the gym in the mornings and then having a good breakfast. And then obviously supplements, proteins, protein shake, protein bars, bananas. Just everything really to try to keep you on top, and not have your blood sugar level rising and spiking too much. Just try to keep everything as even as possible.
I learned a lot playing with the few of the best guys over the last 12, 18 months and see how they do it and taking a few things on board. And it seems to be working reasonably well.
Q. What's it mean to you this tournament, last year was your first time?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, it was a big step last year. Went a long way. Played great against Gary in the course, unfortunately Gary just played that a little bit better. And then I think he kind of lost a bit of energy, and I don't think played great in the final between them.
So it was good. It would have been nice to go a couple better. It was a good breakthrough, beat a lot of good players along the way. I had a tough group last year with Patrick Reed, Sully and Ryan Moore, and came through that and had to play Westie. Played a lot of good players, and, again, fortunately, I came out on top. And hopefully this week we can go play our game and see where it takes us.
You're going to see a lot of matches, with the new format, I think it's quite good, being able to halve 18 and not go down the 19th. But there's going to be some great matches out there this year all across the board. I think every group is really, really strong in depth. Yeah, for me it was massive last year. It's just trying to build on that week in and week out. Trying to get myself a bit more settled over there.
Q. Will you look at this in any way as kind of a Ryder Cup warmup, because you get a match play opportunity on American soil before you guys come back over?
DANNY WILLETT: Yeah, I think it's good for all the European guys. I think you'll see quite a lot of Ryder Cup matchups out there this week. In our group, you've got myself, Brooks and Billy, and obviously them two guys have got the capacity to be on the team as do I. I think throughout the 16 groups, there's going to be a lot of matches that you'll see in September.
Yes, it's good. You kind of get to see the guys' games under pressure in a different kind of way. We all know that the guys, anybody out there, the top 64 can win. They're in this because they're a great golfer. All that stands in the way each day is one person at a time, which is obviously a different format to what we're used to. Yeah, I'm looking forward to be able to play against all the guys and see how I get them.
Q. So much is written about the four guys that are young and at the top of their games. And there's just a big group of young guys right in behind them. Who do you think among those might be the next big thing, maybe just yourself, but who else, like Smylie, Daniel?
DANNY WILLETT: I haven't played with a lot of the Americans over here. I've only played with the young guys from overseas and Europe. Watching on TV, they all look like they've got great golf games. And it's one of them where I think a lot of Americans you see, the great Americans have always come across to Europe or played everywhere in the world and competed well. I think that's a massive key. As Europeans get to travel because our Tour is a lot more worldwide based. We get to play more golf course conditions and things like that.
I think the American guys, for them to move up to the next level and to become very, very, very good, I think traveling the world is a massive help. And obviously trying to compete and win overseas.
Q. Is there one guy, though, that you look at?
DANNY WILLETT: Daniel Bird was a rookie last year, played great all year, had a great FedEx. And then you've got Fitzy from Europe, who's only 21, who could go as far as he wants to in this game. Obviously Spieth is still -- I don't know what he is now, 23, 24, maybe even younger. So he's proven himself, he's traveled to Australia, won in Australia. He's done the world kind of Tour. Went to Abu Dhabi and played well. It's one of those things that you've got to do. I think there's plenty of young talent out there that could quite easily come through.
Q. You said that the players win golf tournament by look sometimes. How much do you look, one person, two person, three, ten?
DANNY WILLETT: I don't think you can put a percentage on it. If you sit down and watch golf tournaments, you've got to play great golf. You've got to beat 156 guys most of the time. But you've got to have a few bounces, a few lucky little breaks, hitting a spike mark instead of bouncing off your line as it happens, it stays up and gets up and down and wins by one.
Regardless of how good you play it, there is an element of luck all the time, I don't think you can put a percentage on that. Some guys might win some weeks by being a lot more lucky than other guys.
Q. How about skills in golf?
DANNY WILLETT: Everyone that's here at this golf tournament that plays most weeks is incredibly skillful. I'm not saying that luck is the only thing you rely on. But to win, to be the one person that wins out of 156 great players, you've got to have a few things going your way.
MODERATOR: Thanks very much. And have a great week.
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